It is there, in the west of Piedmont, on the border with France. A secret and unique nook in the heart of the Alps Cozie.
Maira Valley is a paradise of towering mountains and endless meadows, colorful flowers, streams and pristine nature. 14 small municipalities, their huts and nothing else, and yet so much to do and see. It is the perfect place to regenerate and is a haven for families on vacation. The children will forget quickly the TV, video games and (re) discover the pleasure of living in contact with nature, they will run without thoughts, follow the trail of some wildlife.
It is a slow journey, to do without haste and without a car. Let yourself be carried away by emotions that only nature can give and gives your family an unforgettable holiday.
10 things to do and see in Valle Maira
1. Ride your bike through the valley
You can sit in a meadow, surrounded by mountains, and you will feel happy anyway. But if your kids are adventurous, rent mountain bikes (info: http://www.vallemairamtb.it) and discover the different paths of the valley, immersing yourself in this wild land of indescribable landscapes.
2. At the Maira’s sources
Follow the valley’s river up to its springs that flow in a charming valley with an artificial lake. Here, between the woods, a fairy world opens made of particular travertine caves. A charming place that will enchant young and old.
3. On the trail of dinosaurs
All children will become archaeological for a few hours along the nature walk on the Gardetta plateau , now Italian Geological Heritage. It was here that were discovered the footprints of Ticinosuchus ferox, Triassic reptile ancestor of the dinosaurs.
4. Along the Occitani Trails
Families more trained can not lose Occitani Trails, the busiest hiking circuit of the Maira Valley. A circular route, divided into 18 stages, which allows you to discover the landscapes, the history and the villages.
5. Sleeping in a cabin
In the town of Marmora there’s a really special place. It was a run-down , shut down and abandoned village, but John Neyrone and his wife have given a second life by transforming it into a beautiful eco-friendly village where the scent of wood, the typical mountain architecture and chalets, the warmth of the stove cast iron, common areas and culinary delicacy will make you feel instantly at home. The housing units that can be rented are ten, two-bed up to seven, also suitable to the larger families. A few passes from your cabin you will find laundromat, an iron and a large playroom where all the children, from the different guest families, they can play together. And there is also the Tavern Sagna Rotonda, one of the smallest restaurants in the world, with only eight seats, which also offers take-out service with excellent local dishes.
6. Discovering the Natural Reserve of Ciciu del Villar
In Maira Valley there’s also a special rock garden. Discover with all the family characteristics geomorphological formations looking like big mushrooms and calls “Ciciu”, immersed in a natural area of great value. Among beautiful woods these columns of erosion rise and they can reach 10 meters high and 7 in diameter.
7. Walking in nature
The beauty of nature, and in particularly so the one in Maira Valley, is that at every meter gives you something unexpected, which is a particular flower, a landscape, a bird. And to admire this vastness there is no better way than to walk along the many routes in the area. Each season offers incredible scenery and so in the winter you can discover with snowshoes Costa Chiggia, in spring and summer, the green landscapes of the mountains and, for example, the Lake Nero; and during the fall every wood will turn into a palette of colors.
8. The Ponte Vecchio in Dronero
Dronero is one of 14 municipalities of Valle Maira and here is worth visiting the picturesque stone bridge also known as the Devil’s Bridge, once the only link between the city and the valley. Legend has it that men asked for help to the devil so that the bridge would resist the bad weather.
9. Enjoy the typical products of Valley Maira
Piedmont and the Occitan offer exquisite and delicious dishes. How not to try the gnocchi with Castelmagno, the ancient soup with chestnuts, nettles, mushrooms, garlic and barley, the Persi Pien (stuffed peaches) typical of summer days in Maira Valley?
10. Walking with Alpaca
Since a little over a year in Valle Maira there’s a novelty, a quirky and original way to discover the wonders of the area: walk in company with alpacas, animals typical of the Peruvian Andes arrive in Piedmont. Thanks to the farm MairALPaca you and your children can discover the flora, fauna, stories and legends of the valley along with these fluffy and onlookers animals.
A wilderness, timeless places are waiting for you in Maira Valley for a family vacation that will remain forever in the hearts of children.
Cover photo by Fulvio Spada via Flickr